Fears for 228 as Air France jet vanishes

A file photo shows an Air France jet on take off. Some 228 passengers are aboard the missing aircraft.
A French passenger aircraft carrying 228 people has disappeared off the coast of Brazil, airline officials say.

Air France told CNN the jet was making the 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris when contact was lost. Brazil’s air force launched a search near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha in the Atlantic Ocean, 365 km (226 miles) from Brazil’s coast, the country’s state media said. Air France said flight AF447 was carrying 216 passengers in addition to a crew of 12. The plane is listed as an Airbus A330. A crisis center is being set up at Charles de Gaulle where the plane had been due to land at 11.15 a.m. local time. “We are very worried,” an aviation official told Agence France-Presse. “The plane disappeared from the screens several hours ago. It could be a transponder problem, but this kind of fault is very rare and the plane did not land when expected.”

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The Airbus 330 is a twin-engine long-range aircraft introduced into commercial aviation in the 1990s. CNN air travel expert Richard Quest says the plane, a workhorse of trans-Atlantic routes, has an impeccable safety record. “It has very good range, and is extremely popular with airlines because of its versatility,” he said.